The Nittany Lions travel to Bloomington to face the 7th-ranked team in the nation. Hoo boy.
|Who:||Indiana Hoosiers (16-2. 4-1)|
Well then. After a late game debacle the likes of which even Penn State fans had never seen before, Pat Chambers and co. will have to regroup like no team has ever regrouped before as they take on Indiana at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers lost their last game at home versus Wisconsin last week, a game in which Bucky was able to limit Indiana's possessions and take full advantage of their own--the Badgers shot 45% while holding Tom Crean's squad to a season-low 37%. Penn State will have to concoct a similar formula to have any smidgen of a chance against a normally consistent offensive juggernaut.
Fancy tempo-free stats aren't necessary to show who should come out on top in this game, but here are some interesting offensive numbers anyways: in Big Ten play thus far, Indiana hasn't quite lived up to the outstanding offensive metrics they posted in the non-conference slate. They're averaging 1.09 points per possession in the conference, slightly down from their season average of 1.20 ppp. It doesn't seem like such a big drop-off until you consider the Hoosiers are averaging almost five less possessions per 40 minutes in the Big Ten--hence their 71 points per game average (third in the conference behind Michigan and Minnesota), down from their 84.4 season average. Indiana has played three of the slower-paced teams Big Ten (Wisconsin, Northwestern and Penn State), which may account for the reduction in scoring output.
Not that any of this should really matter for Indiana. They could probably run out their entire second team (led by Will Sheehey's 10.4 ppg) and still be able to handle the Nittany Lions at Assembly Hall. Penn State seems to be in bad place right now, and the immediate future doesn't exactly look bright. Although, Chambers believes his team is 'close to turning a corner'. The fact remains however, that the Hoosiers are vying for a national title, while the Nits are trying to avoid an 0-18 conference record. If all-everything center Cody Zeller asserts himself down low, he should have great success, much like Adreian Payne and (to a lesser extent) Brandon Ubel did against Sasa Borovnjak. Jordan Hulls was "relatively" quiet against the Lions two weeks ago, at least compared to his outing last year at the BJC --the senior three-point specialist "only" went for 14 points on 4-6 shooting.
Hopefully this can serve as another great learning experience for Penn State's newcomers, especially D.J. Newbill. This will be quite a challenge for the makeshift point guard to orchestrate an offense in a game that will likely be played at Indiana's preferred hectic pace, if they have their way (they will).
No one expects anything from Penn State tonight so take it for what it is--a chance for next year's returnees to experience a hostile environment that isn't easily recreated anywhere else. Hopefully it'll come in handy next January.
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